Was the League of Nations a failure?
The League of Nations was created in 1920 as a result of the Paris peace conference that ended the first world war. Originally formed by the treaty of Versailles. (An agreement signed between Germany and the allied powers to end the first world war). Britain, France, Italy and Japan were the main member states. The leagues main goal was to maintain world peace, to resolve international disputes and avoid a future war from breaking out. The 14-point plan of the treaty of Versailles, created in 1918 by American President Woodrow Wilson, imposed sanctions on Germany (being George Clemenceau’s idea) and introduced principles in hope to end the first world war. “The war to end all wars”. A chain of catastrophic events followed, with world war two breaking out in September 1939. Possibly due to Germany having legitimate grievances, because of the harsh conditions of the LON. Therefore, it could be argued that although the league of nations had maintained peace for many years, WW2 had brought the LON to an end, proving it had failed miserably.
The losses of world war one emphasised the necessity of the league. Appeasement was in Britain's favour since the war created ‘devastation’ with deaths of 750,000 young men, debts were 7 billion, export markets lost industries (ship building & textiles). Great Britain could simply not afford another war, therefore Introducing the 14-point plan. However international issues started to rise with Germany, which felt legitimately angry about the sanctions imposed on them. ‘Clemenceau was determined on a punitive peace’.[footnoteRef:1] For example, Germany was forced to sign the war guilt clause (Article 231 under the TOV), and pay reparations. All Germany’s colonies were given to Britain and France as ‘mandates’. Further restricting them to 100,000 men, 6 battle ships and no submarines. Most British governments in the 1920’s favoured disarmament for both political and economic reasons, as by 1932 only £102 million was spent on defence, compared to £760 million between 1919-20. This conveys a success of the League. However, ‘Lloyd George was anxious to destroy German militarism’[footnoteRef:2] highlighting Germany’s fury with their freedom of military taken away. [1: Farmer, A. ‘British Foreign Affairs: Saving Europe at a cost? 1919-1960’, p.16] [2: Farmer, A. ‘British Foreign Affairs: Saving Europe at a cost? 1919-1960’, p.16]
In 1933 Germany had withdrawn from the league of nations. Clearly indicating that peace had been broken. Due to France not agreeing to disarm to Germany’s level, as they feared not being guaranteed security. Japan’s withdrawal also followed in 1933, due to having invaded the whole of Manchuria by February 1932, and China in 1933. The league now stood weak. Furthermore, Hitler declared himself Führer on August 2nd, 1934, after president Paul Von Hindenburg died. Aiming to make Germany great again and obtain ‘lebensraum’ (living space). This marked ‘...